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Philadelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) online

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has always been prominent in Pennsylvania and active in the affairs of govern-
ment. Mr. Lequear's interest centered in his home, his love therefor being one
of the strongest and most pronounced characteristics of his life. He died in 1902
in the faith of the Baptist church of which he had long been a devoted and
active member. His life was so honorable in its purposes and so high were his
principles that the world instinctively paid to him the compliment of respect and
confidence and his friendship was cherished by those who knew him because of
his many sterhng traits.


The well known subject of this brief sketch was born in the village of
Walhalben, Rheinfalz, Germany, March 15, 1840, passing his boyhood amid
those delightful surroundings that every traveler of that part of Germany
knows so well. His father, a dealer in grain and sheep, owned an extensive
bakery, besides being a landowner of prominence, gave his son every oppor-
tunity to enjoy the educational facilities of his native place. Exhausting these
at an unusually early age, he became assistant to his father in the management
of the latter's varied enterprises, and was affectionately known in the town as
"Raritatche" (Little Rarity). At eighteen years of age he was sent to "Zwei-
briicken" to secure a commercial education, but soon after his father met with
reverses in business, which involved the abandonment of the young man's
ambitions in this direction. Quick to realize that his future depended on his
own efforts, he decided to emigrate to America, where so many of his country-
men had already established themselves to their great advantage and profit.

Arriving in the United States in the year 1861, he found a position with
a firm of brewers in Philadelphia, Vollmer & Born. His success was rapid,
for in 1863 we find him married and established in a small brewing business
for himself in the yard of his dwelling at Third and Green streets, Philadelphia,
his output for the first year being five hundred barrels. It was not long before
this enterprising young German realized that he must lay down lines for himself,
at the same time competing with others who had just entered the field. He
made it his purpose to produce an article that his competitors could not adversely
criticize. As he expressed it, "I will make the best article on the market at
a fair price." This he accomplished, establishing a name second to none in the
United States in this business.

Like every man of character, his personality was a strong feature of his
success. As years went by he developed a keen knowledge of human nature
and made for himself a large number of friends who were able and willing
to cooperate with him.





Finding iiis limited quarters inadequate to his rapidly growing business,
he rented a building at Schuylkill Falls. But it was not long before the demand
for his product called for still further increased facilities, and he rented a
portion of Benz & Reily's brewery, in "Brewerytown," the latter part of 1868
finding him the owner of the entire plant. Two years later, in 1870, he pur-
chased the site of the present plant of F. A. Poth & Sons, Incorporated. A
now fully established practical brewer, he was ever on the alert for improve-
ments in methods of manufacture or new inventions in machinery to reduce
cost or improve his product. He was one of the first to experiment with
refrigerating machinery, but after a large outlay of money and time was
compelled to abandon it at its then imperfect stage of development. As illustrat-
ing the painstaking care he gave to eyery detail of his business, when examin-
ing this machinery to test its utility and at the same time to be perfectly fair to
its designers, he passed his hand across the pipes through which cold air was
to be discharged from the air chamber in which it accumulated, but could feel
no expulsion of cold air from them. Turning to a friend of his who stood
near, he said: "Perhaps it is that my hands being hard are not sensitive
enough to feel the current of air; you are bald, put your head down there
and see if you can feel any cold air blow on it." He was one of the pioneers
in extensive advertising and inaugurated in Philadelphia the use of the elaborate
signs now freely used by all brewers.

As his business steadily grew, year after year, he extended his activities
in other directions. At the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 he
rented considerable ground directly opposite the site of the exposition, on
which he erected temporary structures and fitted them up as restaurants; but
the exposition not fulfilling the expectations of its projectors, his enterprise
showed a loss. The unflinching determination that Mr. Poth exhibited through-
out his entire business career was strikingly illustrated in this instance, and
instead of abandoning this land he had rented for the purpose mentioned, he
bought it outright and subsequently erected on it an extensive apartment house,
together with a row of attractive residences, not only recouping his early loss
on the property but realizing handsome returns on the investment. This group
of buildings is known as "Parkside." Another building is the "Brantwood,"
the city residence of the Poth family. At the time of his death this property
formed no inconsiderable portion of his large estate.

In 1887 he turned his business into a corporation, known as the F. A. Poth
Brewing Company, subsequently changed to F. A. Poth & Sons, Incorporated,
in which his two sons, Frederick J. and William O. were associated with him.
William O. Poth has since died, and the company is managed by Frederick
J. Poth, president; Harry A. Poth, secretary and treasurer. The youngest
son, Frank Poth, will enter the management on attaining his majority. The
brewer)' is situated at Thirty-first and Thirty-second streets and Jefferson streets,
Philadelphia, and in its buildings, equipment, output and quality of product
is considered a model in this industry in the United States. Its capacity is
five hundred thousand barrels a year.

Mr. Poth was a generous employer, paying on an average the highest wages
in this industry in Philadelphia. His consideration for his men was at once


paternal and brotherly. He left that in a great measure he was responsible
for their happiness, contentment and general well-being. In 1887 a strike was
brought about aiTecting all brewing establishments in the locality known as
"Brewerytown." The demands of the workmen were for shorter hours, which
while opposed by some of the brewers, Mr. Poth was ready to grant. Un-
fortunately, however, the strikers showed a disposition to assume an arrogant
attitude, which at once animated Mr. Poth to take the lead in combating
threatened intimidation or undue influence on himself or his colleagues. Throw-
ing all the force of his personality, determination and diplomacy into the fight,
he succeeded in bringing about an amicable settlement between men and em-
ployers, receiving not only the gratitude of his colleagues but of the men also,

On October i, 1895, a jubilee was held, arranged for entirely unknown
to him, to commemorate the event of the enormous production of a single es-
tablishment from such modest beginnings as above shown. Strange as it may
seem, this celebration was made a carnival, lasting for a fortnight, when brewers
and distillers from all parts of the world were entertained by him and his sons.
It was a conspicuous incident in the history of the city of Philadelphia and
made the name of Poth known in every part of the country.

For thirty years previous to his death in 1905, Philadelphia saw among
its leaders in commerce and industry no more- potent and interesting person-
ality than Frederick A. Poth. In fact, there was no other brewer in the
country during that period that commanded the attention he did. He was
easily the primate of his profession. Apart from his indomitable will power,
his early success was largely due to the fact that he wisely selected a portion
of Philadelphia that was destined to grow rapidly, its development being
fostered and nurtured by his virility. From the time of establishing his first
plant there he exploited that wholesome and prosperous portion of Philadel-
phia, then known as "Northwest Philadelphia," or "Brewerytown," which latter
name it still more or less retains.

While Mr. Poth was one of the most prominent men in Philadelphia in
commercial affairs, his business ventures involving the investment of large
sums of money, he was the unidentified director or adviser c f the operations
of the various corporations and societies in which he was interested. His
extensive real estate and building operations contributed largely to the devel-
opment of "Greater Philadelphia," and particularly that part of it lying adja-
cent to Memorial Hall and Parkside avenue and Viola street. He was vice
president of the Integrity Title Insurance, Trust & Safe Deposit Company,
the success of which was largely due to his ability as a financier. He never
made a promise, direct or implied, that he did not fulfill. His word was his
bond. In financial circles in Philadelphia and elsewhere he was a prominent
factor. He was broad minded, liberal in thought and action and sought to
help others to succeed as he had done. In the prosecution of his commercial
aflfairs, or in the social humanitarian objects with which he connected himself
he showed the same determination that brought him his first success, and he
never neglected a detail that could help to foster and attain his end. He was
a man of ability, possessing a remarkably keen discernment in business affairs.


Success with him was not the result of accident. In looking at his record one
is filled with admiration for the courage, industry and integrity from which
such small beginnings were turned by him into such magnificent results. The
source of his success was first his strength of will, next his personality, and
then his intuitive knowledge of human nature improved by observation and
experience. His charity was intelligent and discriminating. Many a poor
young man he brought from Germany is now a prosperous mechanic, merchant
or manufacturer.

He was a man of simple tastes, loved nature in all its aspects, and was
never happier than when surrounded by his dogs, horses and cattle on his
farm at Norristown, Pennsylvania. This property he purchased some years ago.
It was a barren waste but afiforded a magnificient view of the surrounding
country. At a large outlay of money he had it graded and laid out an exten-
sive lawn, leading up to the eminence on which was to be erected a handsome
residence. He built large barns to house the herd of seventy-five Holstein-
Friesen cattle which he later acquired. He put the same enthusiasm into his
farming that he had into his business and determined to secure the greatest yield
per acre. His stock was only of the best, his farming implements and appli-
ances the latest. Not satisfied with bringing this tract of land under perfect
cultivation he purchased one after another many surrounding farms which
he brought up to the same state of perfection that made his first farm a
model one.

While in every sense of the word a loyal, patriotic American citizen, he
never forgot the land of his birth and the scenes of his childhood and early
youth. During the later years of his life he made annual visits to his birth-
place, and it was while on these pilgrimages to the Fatherland that some of
his large benefactions were made. He sought to learn what public improve-
ments his native town was most in need of and provided them — an aqueduct,
a church, a school house.

A self-made man, he exemplified during his lifetime all the traits that
distinguish a determined and self-reliant character, softened by a true humani-
tarian spirit, a tender family love and inborn generous impulses. His death
on January 21, 1905, came with almost as great a shock to the community
and those who knew him intimately as it did to his devoted employes and
sorrowing family.

The buildings occupied by F. A. Poth & Sons, Incorporated, cover nearly
two square blocks from Thirty-first to Glenwood avenue, and from Oxford to
Jefferson streets, Philadelphia. The brew-house is five stories in height, seventy-
five feet on Thirty-first street and sixty feet on Jefferson street, and is built
of stone, brick, iron and concrete only, and, like all the other structures, is
absolutely fire-proof.

On the first floor, and extending into the cellar, are four immense brine-
tanks, in which the necessary brine for circulation in the refrigerating pipes
of the storage-house is stored. In the center of this building the majestic stair-
case extends to the full height of the structure. On the second floor, the two
five hundred-barrel hop jacks are placed, as also the brew-house engine. On
an intermediate staging above this floor are the supports of the two three hun-


dred and fifty -barrel steam kettles. Upon another entresol above the kettles
are the two mash-tubs, in which the infusion of malt is made, the stirring de-
vices of which are operated from the kettle floor. On the fourth floor are
two malt hoppers, rice tubs and a copper hot-water tub of eight hundred
barrels capacity, as well as a cold-water tub of equal size, elevated into the dome.

The mill-house is in the rear of the brewery, and contains the machinery
required to clean and grind the malt required in brewing. Next to the mill-
house, on the Thirty-first street side, is the malt storage-house, having a capacity
of one hundred and twenty thousand bushels of malt, which is arranged with
machinery to automatically deliver, store, convey and otherwise handle the malt.

A second building adjoins the brew-house on the Jefferson street front and
to the west. On the ground floor are the four one hundred-ton "Consolidated"
refrigerating machines, which are a refrigeration equivalent to the melting of
four hundred tons of ice per twenty-four hours. The finish of this room is in
marble and Spanish-glazed tiling, with bronze trimmings, rails, etc. On the
second floor are the condensers, enormous stands of piping in which the com-
pressed refrigerant is condensed and delivered in liquid condition in the storage-
house on the opposite side of the street. The third floor is surrounded by a
hipped roof, and contains the "surface cooler."

On the north side of Jefferson street is the storage-house, four stories in
height, with cellar and an additional central gable. This entire building is used
for fermentation and storage of beer only. Adjoining the refrigerated storage-
house on the Jefferson street front are the stables. This building is V-shaped,
having a front of two hundred feet on Thirty-first street and two hundred and
fifty on Glen wood avenue, and is three stories in height; the lower being for
wagon storage ; the second floor throughout for stalls to accommodate one hundred
and forty to one hundred and fifty horses ; the third floor contains the hay-
lofts, harness-cleaning and repair-shops, blanket-drying and storage-rooms, and
other auxiliaries of a modern stable.

On the southwest corner of Thirty-first and Jefferson street is the boiler-
house, which contains a battery of five two hundred horse-power boilers. Sepa-
rated from the brew-house and boilerhouse by a neat park, stands the magni-
ficent office building. On the first floor center is the main office, in which are
the bookkeepers, clerks and office force. To the right and left of this room
in the rear are the private offices of the firm, and in the rear is a reception
room. On the second floor are the collectors' rooms, and a third chamber
devoted to the business uses of the office. In the basement are the kitchen, din-
ing-room and cosy "Bier-stube."


There is no stronger proof of Philadelphia's business opportunities and
conditions and the attractiveness of the city as a place of residence than the
fact that a large percentage of its prosperous business men are those who claim
the city as the place of their nativity and have spent the greater part of their
lives here, enjoying the advantages offered for progress in many ways. A


representative of this class is Frederick J. Poth, now the president of F. A.
Poth & Sons, Incorporated, brewers.

He was born here March 20, 1869, and is a son of Frederick A. and Helena
M. Poth, whose sketch precedes this. Spending his youthful days in his parents'
home, Frederick J. Poth attended the public schools to the age of fourteen years,
after which he entered the Nazareth Hall Academy, where he also spent two
years. In further preparation for life's practical and responsible duties he
entered Pierce's Business College, in which he remained as a student for two
years, after which he went to Reading, Pennsylvania, where for one year he
occupied a position with the Reading Brewing Company. He next went to New
York and engaged with the Eblings Brewing Company for a year. Returning
on the expiration of that period to Philadelphia he joined his father in the brew-
ing business as foreman of the plant and also had charge of the office. After
his father's death he was elected president and has been very successful in the
control and management of the business, which is now of large and profitable
proportions, employment being furnished to one hundred and thirty-five men,
while the capacity of the plant is five hundred thousand barrels per year.

Mr. Poth was married in Philadelphia to Miss Mary C. Clarke, and they
have two children. Frederick Clarke, two years of age; and Gilbert Leslie,
who is in his first year. In his political views Mr. Poth is an earnest republi-
can. He belongs to various German societies, in which he is popular, and he
also holds membership with the Red Men and with the Masons. In the latter
organization he has attained high rank, belonging to William G. Hamilton
Lodge, A. F. & A. M. ; Freeman Chapter, R. A. M. ; Pennsylvania Commandery,
K. T., and Lu Lu Temple of the Mystic Shrine. While he entered upon a
business already established he has displayed an initiative spirit in further ex-
tending its interests and his life record proves that success is not a matter of
genius, as held by some, but is rather the outcome of clear judgment, experience
and indefatigable energy.


Harry A. Poth, secretary and treasurer of the F. A. Poth Sons Company,
owning and conducting a successful brewing plant in Philadelphia, was born
in Atlantic City, New Jersey, July 11, 1881, and is a son of Frederick A. and
Helena M. Poth. His father was the founder of the business, which is now
being carried on by his sons.

Reared in his parents' home Harry A. Poth attended the William Penn
Charter school until 1898, after which he was graduated from the Pennsyl-
vania Military Academy with the class of 1902. He then spent six months
as a student in the Wallerstein Brewing Institution, after which he went to
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he engaged with the Lancaster Brewing Com-
pany for two months and obtained practical experience of the brewing business.
He then returned to Philadelphia and engaged with his father and following
the death of his father was elected, in January, 1905. to the office of secretary


and treasurer. The company has a very large local business, although they
make some shipments to New Jersey. That they receive the support of their
home town is indicative of the excellence of their product and the high stand-
ing of the company in a business way. On the 19th of October, 1910, Mr. Poth
was married in Philadelphia to Mary P. Skelly.


Simon Silberman is perhaps best remembered in connection with his large ac-
tivities in the field of Jewish charities. He died January 10, 1883, but the in-
fluence of his beneficent labors in that direction still remains. As the name indi-
cates, he was of German birth, his natal day being February 28, 1826. He came
to Philadelphia as a young man to engage in business on his own account, and
although his start was a most modest one, he gradually worked his way upward,
passing from the ranks of the employed to the employer until as a dealer in no-
tions he built up an extensive and very profitable business. He watched every
detail opening to success, carefully planned to meet the growth of the trade and
in the wise direction of his business affairs gained that substantial advance that
could be reckoned in the tangible term of profit. He was widely recognized as
a man of exceptional business ability and was popular in commercial as well as
in other circles.

Mr. Silberman was married in Boston to Miss Ida Bannara, and they had four
children, of whom three are yet living, Mrs. Teller, Mrs. David Hirsh and Mrs.
Harris Loeb, all residents of Philadelphia. Mr. Silberman resided at No. 1727
Spring Garden street in the neighborhood of the fine old homes of Philadelphia.
He was a most public-spirited man, charitable and of generous impulses. He was
ever deeply interested in projects for the benefit of his fellowmen. He assisted
in building the Broad Street Temple and for ten years served as one of its vestry-
men. He acted as president of the building committee and was interested in the
various lines of organized church work. His philanthropic spirit was manifest
in his connection with the Jewish charities of the city, and Philadelphia and the
church profited greatly by his beneficence and his liberality.


Dr. Frank Voshell Slaughter, a practitioner of the homeopathic school of
Philadelphia, comes of an ancestry that for many generations has been distinc-
tively American in both lineal and collateral lines. He was born in Kent county,
Delaware, February 19, 1864. His father, Ellsbury B. Slaughter, also a native
of Kent county, was born in the town of Slaughter Station and was graduated
at Fairfield, New York, after which he followed the profession of school teach-
ing until 1879, when he turned his attention to the business of fruit growing,
which he conducted on strictly scientific principles. He remained in active con-


nection with that business until 1890, when he again took up the profession of
teaching. He was always an advocate of democratic principles and later in life
took an active part in the political affairs of his locality. He was for ten years
justice of the peace of Kenton. In tracing his ancestry it is found that all the
Slaughter families in this country trace their line of descent directly to a party
of six brothers from the country of Wales, who crossed the Atlantic to Virginia
in early colonial days. There was also a sister who came with them. Some of
them remained in Virginia, others went to Delaware and still others to the Caro-
linas. They were all known to be men of high character and through the several
generations which bring us to the present day we find scarcely an exception
to the fact that all have been people of upright principle and high moral worth.

The mother of Dr. Slaughter bore the maiden name of Clementine M. Vosh-
ell and was born in Kent county, Delaware, April 21, 1839. She spent her youth
and middle age in the county of her nativity, where she reared a large family but
when her husband died in 1904 she came to Philadelphia, where she now makes
her home with her son, Dr. Slaughter. She is the daughter of William D. Vosh-
ell, also a native of Kent county, Delaware, who in early life was a salesman but
in later years was chief magistrate and postmaster in Hazletville, Delaware, hold-
ing the same offices to the time of his death. He was a democrat in a day when
no such thing as split ticket had ever been heard of and stalwart in support of
the party principles, he took an active interest in any movement for the aid or
betterment of his party. He possessed a genial, affable disposition, yet dignified
personality and his friends were not only found in his home locality but in every
part of the state in which he was known. His death, which occurred March 19,
1863, was the occasion of deep and wide spread regret. He was the son of Dan-
iel Voshell, who was also a native of Kent county, Delaware, and gave his entire
life to agricultural pursuits, living on the same farm which many years before

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 13 of 62)